Scotsman Letters: Unfair attack on Scottish Labour MP Murray

Leah Gunn Barrett (Letters, April 15) manages to claim that what Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Ian Murray has to say in his online newsletter "conflicts with the evidence" – even though she doesn't read it!
Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray speaking during the Scottish Labour conference at Glasgow Royal Concert HallScottish Labour MP Ian Murray speaking during the Scottish Labour conference at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray speaking during the Scottish Labour conference at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

She then sets her sights on the Labour party, claiming that it wants, for instance, to "criminalise" illegal immigrants or "accelerate NHS privatisation".

This is nothing more than an unthinking regurgitation of the current SNP approach which is to pretend that there is no difference between the Tories and Labour showing that she knows as much about Labour policies as she does about Ian Murray's newsletter.

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If she could take the time to read it she would find, amongst other things, a reasoned and thoughtful explanation as to why he – and the Labour Party – opposes the "cruel and unworkable" Illegal Migration bill.

Ms Barrett's main gripe is clearly that Ian Murray is not a nationalist. She challenges him to embrace independence but asserts that he does not have the "political courage to break from London" again displaying her ignorance of his record.

She clearly does not know that in 2016 he resigned from his position as Scottish Secretary because of his lack of confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

Would Ms Barrett agree that resigning from the "London" shadow cabinet and putting at risk his pollical future showed a remarkable degree of courage as well as integrity? There is no shortage of political figures – from the First Minister down – for her to turn her fire on. Ian Murray is not one of them.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Irish example

As US President Joe Biden’s cavalcade leaves town, he leaves an Irish economy that is expected to be the best performing in Europe this year, predicted to grow at a conservative estimate of 4.9 per cent.

Across the border, it’s a different picture. Recent months have seen forecast after forecast portending doom for the UK economy, with the IMF predicting that the UK would be the worst performing economy in the G7 this year.

Major economists argue that the major cause of this is Brexit, with UK exports and imports 15 per cent lower in the long run than if the UK had remained in the EU.

Ireland was repeatedly condemned as doomed during the Brexit negotiations if the UK received a poor deal from Brussels, with predictions that Ireland would be clamouring to leave the EU as soon as the UK left because of the level of exports to the UK.

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The reality, however, has been very different, as there has been a huge divergence between the Irish economy and the UK economy over recent decades. In 2021, UK trade only accounted for 13 per cent of Irish exports, and 20 per cent of Irish imports, with Irish firms now increasingly switching from the UK to the EU for supplies.

Following Brexit, Ireland stands as the transatlantic gateway to the European Union, with the economy continuing to flourish, capitalising on the country’s access to a market of 450 million people and boasting a 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate and a highly educated workforce.

The Irish example of a small and agile economy in the European Union, which has over the years broadened its focus away from a stagnating UK economy, may, dare I say it, prove an example to those us north of the Border.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

More TV rugby

As our beautiful game has seen its men’s national team rise to 36th in the world and there are calls for games to be live on terrestrial TV, it is important to remember our other mass participation team sport, rugby union, where Scotland’s men are currently ranked 5th. Rugby is massive in countries like Wales and New Zealand, but in Scotland it’s still a distant poor relation to football.

With around 30,000 players compared to over 150,000 in Ireland and over 650,000 in South Africa we have little chance of beating either to progress in the forthcoming World Cup. Both are ranked higher than Scotland but countries like England, Wales and Australia, with a far better pedigree and player base, are ranked behind.

Scotland have been at this level before, most notably in 1990 and 1999, when Scotland won the Five Nations championship. The key to success then as now is that coaches have successfully got Scotland playing a fast attacking game coupled with a well-organised defence. Few players are world class with success also relying on identifying eligible overseas talent like Jack Dempsey and fast-tracking potential like Rory Darge.

To progress, however, Scottish rugby needs to attract more home-grown players and it can’t do that if none of our two professional teams’ games and only around half of internationals are shown on terrestrial TV except during World Cup years. To attract boys and girls rugby needs to be safer, better structured and more accessible on television.

Many more well-conditioned and skilful players are needed at age group levels through government support for rugby to be available at every secondary school. Health, leadership and organisational skills would be advanced along with national pride when tournaments are won again with all games on TV for free.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Food for thought?

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I welcomed the letter from Doctor G. Cochrane (April 15) suggesting a plausible alternative cause of global warming. There is, however, a third theory growing (appropriately) in prominence which suggests modern farming is to blame.

The increase of CO2 in the air may have resulted with the Industrial Revolution and its consequences for agriculture. The logic here is that ploughed fields release the carbon naturally stored in the soil by the trees and plants that formerly grew there. A massive expansion of farming and ploughing means a massive expansion of CO2 release. Further to that, this disturbance of the soil destroys not only the worms but also the microbial activity essential for soil health.

The consequence of that is the need for massive inputs of artificial fertilsers and, later, herbicides and pesticides, all of which further damage the natural sequestration of aerial CO2. The removal of trees which formerly absorbed millions of tonnes of carbon exacerbated the problem we now face today.

The solution is to cease ploughing and poisoning the soil with artificial chemicals and to instead allow the soil microbes to regenerate a healthy soil. Inject seeds rather than plough the land and never have bare soil.

In this way the land retains the required moisture and microbes and worms. Modern farming needs to change, and some farmers are ahead of the game and prospering.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, E. Lothian

UK to the rescue

It may very well be the case, as some nationalists claim, that the breakdown of the ferry service between Ardnamurchan and Corran is not the fault of the SNP administration in Edinburgh.

That, however, is immaterial. The surprise was seeing Ian Blackford, SNP MP, asking Ben Wallace, the Minister of Defence, to make the Royal Navy available to provide a vessel to ply the affected route as an interim measure.

This was quite delicious: it showed, yet again, how the UK is a single country in which its constituent parts supply mutual assistance when required.

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If anything demonstrates the insanity of Scotland leaving the UK, it is this example of the ability and willingness of a UK government department to rescue a far-flung area of the UK from what is undoubtedly an emergency for those dependent on the ferry.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Curb e-scooters

Electric scooters are to be banned from ScotRail trains because of their fire risk (your report, April 15). What has taken them so long, since London Transport banned e-scooters a long time ago from trains and buses due to the risk of the lithium batteries going on fire?

Why is the UK government still persisting in continuing with the e-scooter trial in England until May 2024 when there have been numerous fires, 17 fatalities and over 4,000 injuries since they appeared, mostly illegally on our roads and pavements?

There are no e-scooter trials in Scotland, so why is Police Scotland not arresting the riders of these illegal e-scooters and confiscating the e-scooters? Following a Freedom of Information request asking how many e-scooters riders had been charged and their e-scooters confiscated, Police Scotland said that getting this information would be too costly. A pretty lame excuse in the computer age.

The Scottish Government should tell Police Scotland to confiscate all e-scooters not on private land, and quickly pass legislation that e-scooters will never be allowed on Scottish roads, pavements and pedestrian areas. Now that would show the independence they crave.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow

Filmhouse fears

On attending the joint 'Save the Filmhouse' & National Arts Day gathering in Edinburgh on Saturday 15, I was greatly disappointed to see not a single one of our city's many elected representatives present and ready to speak up about the increasingly dire situation facing cultural life in Scotland.

This is the second time a 'Save the Filmhouse' event has attracted wide public support but zero political leadership.

After the first no-show I wrote to all my councillors asking them and their colleagues to take a stand, but despite warm words in their replies it seems none wish to publicly pick up the baton for the enriching power of art in our capital of culture.

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They may say they are constrained in the case of the Filmhouse by the administration process, but it is increasingly clear if we simply sit by and play the administrators game by their rules we will lose. The Spartacus moment is upon us. I dearly hope at least some of our civic leaders will stand up and face it. We are all waiting to see who it will be.

David Macpherson, Portobello

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